Insider.com recently reported that managers at Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, intentionally hire people that they know they’re going to fire. Why? Because managers are expected to lose, either through voluntary attrition or termination, a specific number of employees every year. If you do not meet your quota, you are expected to make up for it the following year.
While turnover is a good thing – think fresh ideas, new bench strength for the future, and eliminating people who have a toxic attitude or are incompetent at their job – incentives sometimes drive people to act in ways that fall short of company values.
This practice appears to go against one of the company’s Leadership Principles, which is to “Hire and develop the best.” In a nutshell, this value is about managers committing to raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion, move people around, develop great leaders, and coach others to succeed.
From my experience, I believe Amazon’s leaders did not intentionally set out to put a process in place that appears to go against one of its Leadership Principles, but it appears that it has. And unfortunately, this can lead to confusion among employees and worse, disengagement, as people feel that the firm is not walking their talk.
Jill, What Can I Do? If you have processes, guidelines, quotas, goals, or rules in your organization that you believe are in direct conflict with its stated Values, speak up. If it’s not culturally acceptable to speak up, do it anyway. The only way you are going to improve your culture is if people have the confidence and courage to point out discrepancies, so leadership has the opportunity to course correct. If Not You, Who?